7 Jun, 15:39
ERC can confirm that the Federation Française de Rugby (FFR) has withdrawn its application to host the 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals, due to the ongoing uncertainty regarding the availability of the Stade de France.
ERC, the tournament organisers, have initiated a series of "Elite Awards" to mark significant milestones reached in the tournament and Munster's massive contribution to the European cross-border competition since its launch in 1995 comes in the shape of three special awards.
In the summer of 2005 the Heineken Cup will celebrate its 10th birthday and ERC have created four special award categories - for teams playing 50 matches; players reaching 50 tournament caps; players scoring 500 points and players crossing for 25 tries.
ERC Chairman Jean-Pierre Lux will be at Thomond Park to present Munster with an engraved crystal bowl to acknowledge their 50 tournament matches;
Anthony Foley with a personalised embroided cap for his 50 appearances in the competition and Ronan O'Gara a crystal boot in recognition of him passing the 500-points barrier.
"The presentation of three of these prestigious ERC Elite Awards to one team show just how magnificent has been Munster's contribution to the Heineken Cup," said Lux.
"In the last four seasons of the Heineken Cup the team has won through to two finals plus two semi-finals, Anthony has missed just one of their 56 matches in the tournament and Ronan has now scored 555 points for the team."
Toulouse and Llanelli Scarlets have also reached the half century of games landmark, with Leinster Lions and Leicester Tigers joining them this weekend, Ulster (Round 5) and Cardiff Blues (Round 6) will make it
"Magnificent Seven" in that elite '50 Club' by the end of the Pool stage.
On the individual player front, Diego Dominguez (Milan/Stade Francais) and Stephen Jones (Llanelli/Llanelli Scarlets) have also scored 500 points while Llanelli Scarlets forwards Chris Wyatt and Robin McBryde are just one match away from joining Foley as the players to make a half century of tournament appearances. Victor Costello of Leinster Lions is three games away from that milestone.
But no player has reached the 25-try target. Michel Marfaing scored 24
Heineken Cup tries for Toulouse before hanging up his boots with his former team-mate Emile Ntamack and Dafydd James (Celtic Warriors) closing in on that elusive milestone.
ERC elite awards
TEAM 50 tournament matches - Toulouse (57), Munster (56), Llanelli Scarlets (51). Coming up - Leicester Tigers (49), Leinster Lions (49), Ulster (48), Cardiff Blues (47)
50 tournament caps - Anthony Foley (Munster - 55). Coming up - Chris Wyatt (Llanelli Scarlets - 49), Robin McBryde (Llanelli Scarlets - 49), Victor Costello (Leinster Lions - 47)
500 tournament points - Diego Dominguez (Milan/Stade Francais - 592), Ronan O'Gara (Munster - 555), Stephen Jones (Llanelli/Llanelli Scarlets - 517).
Coming up - Neil Jenkins (Pontypridd/Cardiff/Celtic Warriors - 482)
25 tournament tries - No award winner
Michel Marfaing (Retired - 24, Toulouse), Emile Ntamack (Toulouse - 21), Dafydd James (Pontypridd/Llanelli/Bridgend/Celtic Warriors - 20)